This year’s Mardi Gras went off with a bang as hundreds of local Eastleigh people celebrated the 1945 themed day at Leigh Road’s recreational ground on Saturday.
The glorious sunny day kicked off with former Southampton FC manager Lawrie McMenemy, former Saints defender Jim Steele and comedy impressionist Mike Osman all attending the event.
Southampton Concert Wind Band kicked off the day’s entertainment that proved to be a great success with the local community throughout the day.
Performances from Winchester’s Uke Jam (Ukele Band) , Stepping Out Academy of Performing Arts, Big Noise Samba Band, Eastleigh Fusion Choir, Red Barrows and a finale performance from Panatical really gave the visitors and organisers a day to be proud of.
Female duet Air Raid Sirens put in a sterling performance throughout the day and performed twice on the Eastleigh Memorial Bandstand and attracted an appreciative crowd who clearly enjoyed their take on modern and vintage songs.
The 1940’s tribute act includes Amanda Parsons, who is also a drama teacher, and Lallie Wadham who has committed her career as just a singer and sings in several acts such as ABBA and Blondie tributes.
The singers agreed that events in the town helped bring people together.
‘Yes 100%, we’ve just been saying that actually to the organisers that it does something really good for the community.’
‘We’ve been together for five years and today was amazing, it was fabulous atmosphere.
‘We performed a couple of years ago to 16,000 people but we didn’t realise how many people would be there and it was a bit of a shock – we never know what we’re turning up to.
‘The audience today was lovely, really nice, it’s been a great mix of everybody young and old.
‘We sung songs from the 1940’s really but we do a few modern numbers too as they’re popular too with young people.’
You can watch a bit of Air Raid Sirens’ show below.
Sam FM were also there to help with the entertainment and there was a plenty to do for all the family including a bouncy castle, penalty shoot out, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services who allowed children to have a tour of their trucks.
The vintage market proved to be a great hit with plenty of stalls offering classic and retro items for sale.
Classic vehicles were on show around the surrounding areas of the recreational ground with Southern Vectis’ open top bus ‘The Old Girl’ making an appearance that proved to be popular with the kids.
One of the organisers of the day, Cllr Keith Trenchard who attended the event with wife Christine, was particular happy with the turnout
‘It’s been excellent, it’s been fantastic and we’ve had more people here than we’ve had over the last three years.
‘Without a doubt the weather has helped that a lot, if it was a bit rainy we would of had an issue I think but then again looking at the people here they probably would of come anyway.
‘The live music is fantastic, you spend all year getting it organised, we’ve had these booked in for some time and that’s what people want.
‘It brings the community together without a doubt, well that’s the plan and that’s what we try to do, to get everyone involved and bring people into the town – that’s where we want to be.
‘We’re hoping to give Autism Hampshire something substantial, we’ve had some VIP guests down this morning to push it along so if we can raise a £1,000 for them then that’s a £1,000 that makes a difference.’
The Carnival Parade took place at 5pm where the day was drawing to end and dancers, performers and the weird and wonderful all toured around Eastleigh.
The whole day of course however was in aid of charity with this year’s charity being Autism Hampshire.
Kathryn Cornish and Emily Wright were representing the charity and Kathryrn commented on the event and said:
‘We’re from the community access department and we offer information, advice and guidance to anyone who has any autism related concern.
‘And that might be parents who are starting to think their child has autism or their child has just got a diagnosis of autism – we cover the whole range.
‘Today has been really good because what you tend to get is people with perhaps a little bit of concern about someone with autism and take the opportunity see the sign and think I’ll go and ask.
‘Perhaps people who wouldn’t contact you, you reach out to those people.
‘It’s a brilliant opportunity for us, it’s really good, Autism Hampshire is a local charity, from the number of people that has actually spoke to us, it is a charity that actually supports quite a lot of people out in the community.
‘The fact that they nominated us as their charity to support makes a big difference to what we can do so that’s a really good thing for us.’
Kathryn continued to say that if anyone is concerned about autism then please call the Community Access on 02380 633 951.
See more photos of the day below.